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Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography Paperback – April 4, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A very good read." --Examiner.com

About the Author

James Curl is a member of the International Boxing Research Organization and has written articles for IBRO Journal and East Side Boxing. He lives in Rancho Cordova, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (April 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078646822X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786468225
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a light read...I think it's great that someone finally wrote a biography on Walcott and I love boxing books (especially about Depression-era and WWII-era boxing, when it was huge) since the sport as it is currently practiced is no longer very good. But it's more a recap of his professional accomplishments and I felt like something was lacking in describing his personal life; I felt like I got to know him as a boxer and not as a human being. References were made mostly to public events, and not to any extant correspondence, and while a few of his contemporaries' opinions of the man found their way into the book, there weren't as many as I would have liked.

As an additional note, I think the style of the book made it feel like a children's book...sentence structure was loose and it was written with an uncritical tendency towards idolization that left me a little bit cold...and on top of that there were quite a few grammatical errors. Having said all of this, I liked the book, I think it serves a purpose, and I appreciated it for what it was; I do however feel obliged to note honestly all of the issues that could be improved.
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Format: Paperback
It was one month past my ninth birthday and I was watching the Friday
Night Fights by myself. Usually it was a shared activity with my father but
he was not home that evening. I was hooked on the sport since I saw
Ezzard Charles upset Joe Louis in September of 1949 on our 12-inch Admiral
TV. In my young mind Charles was unbeatable, which made his knockout
loss to Walcott even more amazing. Maybe it was the ability of first time
author James Curl's biography of Jersey Joe Walcott to recapture that
moment in time, but I loved this book.
In writing this tomb, Curl did extensive research before writing one word of
text, and it shows. The reader finds himself transported in time back to the
first half of the last century to an old section of Pennsauken, New Jersey
called Homesteadville. Born into extreme poverty, Arnold Raymond Cream
(his birth name), was the fourth of twelve children. We learn of Joe's early
exposure to the sport, boxing for candy in the backyards of his
neighborhood.
Married early in life and with a growing family to feed, Walcott tries boxing as a means to feed and clothe his
family. Undernourished, taking matches on short notice, fighting for small purses and constantly changing
management proved to be a receipt for failure. Always a step ahead of bill collectors and moving from one
dismal apartment to another, the Walcott's as often as not found themselves on the public dole.
In 1944 Walcott's fortunes finally take a turn for the better after a chance meeting with Felix Bocchicchio, a
well-known underworld criminal, gambler, and gangster. Eating good meals, preparing for fights, growing
purses and good management turned failure into success.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A recent web blog posted his ranking of all-time great heavyweights. His assessment of Jersey Joe Walcott was that he was a bum.

With all due respect, this historian did not take into account this man's grit, skill, or belief in his own destiny.

Mr. Curl has crafted a fine biography and recognized what an extraordinary story this is, and what a unique and special man Jersey Joe Walcott was. Walcott was a 1940's and early 1950's version of Jerry Quarry, constantly clearing out the contenders of the division to bring a title shot his way. But Walcott was far more gifted, fighting through disappointments, like his gift decision loss to Joe Louis, his knockout in the return, and two close losses (one on the scorecard) to the great Ezzard Charles. He also fought through age, fighting at high levels far past the chronological time most would have packed it in.

Walcott amassed great global popularity, in his pursuit of a title. The common man could identify with his underdog status, and quest for the most coveted place in the sporting world.

Walcott pulled himself from dire poverty to retire a millionaire, at a time when both that, and the Heavyweight Championship meant something big.

This is as story of a man's inherent decency, and his drive. Even after retirement to make a difference in his world. And the world in general.

It is difficult not to read a book like this and find inspiration in a man's belief in himself, in his quest for achievement and self-respect. He was a figure who cut across color lines, and in many, many ways, a great man.

Mr . Curl brings the fight nights to life with his vivid depictions of the opponents, and the historical contexts with which they play out. A seminal biography of a fascinating Heavyweight Champion.
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Format: Paperback
In the introduction to his book, "Jersey Joe Walcott : a boxing biography" James Curl says that he is not a writer by profession. He could be if he wanted. For someone's first work of nonfiction this is a very well researched and well written book. He also chose a very interesting person for his subject. Jersey Joe's life story has more twists than a Dickens novel.

"Jersey Joe Walcott" was born Arnold Raymond Cream in 1914 to a large, poor family outside of Camden New Jersey. His family introduced him to boxing early, boxing matches between neighborhood boys was an affordable entertainment. at age 16 he started boxing professionally and soon his skill caught the attention of Jack Blackburn, an up and coming trainer. When Blackburn was hired to train in Chicago he invited the promising young boxer to go with him. Bad luck made its first visit to Walcott's career in the form of Typhoid Fever. While Walcott recuperated, it was over a year before he entered the ring again, Blackburn developed a boxer named Joe Louis.

Twenty one years after his first professional fight Jersey Joe won the heavyweight boxing championship, he was the oldest man to take the title until George Foreman retook the title at age 46. His career was a seemingly endless story of changing fortune. At one point he was discouraged enough to quit boxing, but the need to feed his family forced him back into the ring.

Walcott's story impressed me. His biggest fight, his toughest opponent, was poverty. Until new trainer, Felix Bocchicchio, came along, poverty was winning more rounds than Walcott was. After all how can a man win a professional heavyweight boxing match when his last meal, a few bites of bread and potatoes, was the day before?
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